Bears and Bears

A small update (and more unnecessary reasons for why I’ve been busy)

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I made a small New York stop in October with the boyfriend in Queens and Manhattan for more food and sightseeing adventures. Food highlights include helluva lot of Chinese food at New World Mall, Korean fried chicken, Rosa’s pizza, the Halal guys, oysters at Chelsea Market, and omggg shaved ice/bingsu!

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mmm…green tea bingsu. This pic of the shaved ice might not look the most appetizing but I swear it was sooooo good!!

Our friend came back from Japan with paper crafts that I was distracted by as well…

My bf got a pretty sick looking Charizard/Lizardon? XD paper theater that I did too and didn’t get to get a picture of, so here’s a pic from Google and a YouTube link to some random person putting it together XD because you guys know I can’t take credit for the pic!

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And as always, while binging on tv shows and YouTube videos, here’s the cross-stitch update :). I’ll be getting back to the Flowers and Lace pattern very soon!

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I’ll be posting the Q&A from a blogging award soon as well (thanks again Ivy! ^^)

Oh also, the pictures on my blog will most likely have a different quality/dimension/format or whatever starting in my next updates. Come Black Friday, I’ll probably (finally!) be getting a phone upgrade so hopefully, say bye to these potato quality photos!

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Better Late Than Never

Hi ladies! This post was meant to be up much sooner, but it went to the backburner with vacations plans for Chicago and preparations for Hurricane Irma. (I know what you guys are thinking: excuses, excuses!) Might I say I loved how Chicago, particularly Logan Square, treated us? There was such a nice friendly vibe in the community and loved all the pretty flowers and delicious noms!

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Credit to my boyfriend for capturing this lovely view of Chicago downtown

 

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Back to cross-stitching, this is a follow-up (and the last 😦 ) post for the Past, Present, Forever kit. I never showed you guys how grimy the aida cloth was from the years I spent stitching the pattern. Please refer to this post about grime guards to prevent what you’ll see in the following pictures from happening!

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But say your cross stitch got to the state as mine was in. What then? OxyClean worked for me. I read accounts of people mixing a 1:1 ratio of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda which is pretty much a homemade OxyClean which works just as well. I only let the grimy, stained areas soak. I had to soak them a handful of times to get the stains completely out probably because of the gunk, oils, and dirt that had accumulated over many years. After each time, the stains would become fainter, but would do this weird thing where it’d spread to a wider area. With a little bit of ironing to get the wrinkles and creases out, voilà!

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Something Beautiful

So this happened 😀

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Threading the beads and doing the backstitches took forever. I just can’t believe it’s finally all done!

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I just wanted to show close-ups of the beads and the shimmery blending filament :). IT’S SO PRETTY AND SHINY!!

It’s taken eleven years to finally say the Cinderella’s Castle kit is done. I don’t know if it’s just me being sentimental and giving more meaning to this kit than it should have, but I feel like since I’ve worked on this project for a good chunk of my life, it’s also become symbolic of that part of my life and metaphor that life can be a bumpy journey and that’s okay.

Before I get into the similarities of this kit and my life, here’s my life timeline when I first got the kit.

WARNING: long potential melodramatic story ahead. This may be one of the few times in this blog I get into detail about my life.

Eleven years ago when I got the kit, it felt like I was at a prime point in my teenage years despite dealing with my parents’ divorce and frequent fights. The main reason I got the kit was from the prize money I received from a piano competition (the kit was priceyy!), and I was accepted by the rigorous high school my parents had set their eyes on. I felt like I was mainly studying to fulfill my parents’ path for me and followed what they said because I truly didn’t know what I wanted for myself (and still don’t know now!). Fast forward to my college acceptance, naively I thought my life would continue upwards.

Boy was college a smack to my face. I was not prepared for the studying required for college. My university also had a huge student body and it brought out what I thought was mild shyness to something pretty full blown, and seeing all my classmates who had their lives together made me feel more and more like I couldn’t keep up with them (In hindsight, I shouldn’t have compared myself to others, but I didn’t know better XD). My grades dropped in my gen eds and I switched through many majors in my first two years and dodged a lot of my parents’ questions about my progress. I never straight up told my parents I struggled because I was afraid of their disapproval and them feeling like I wasted their time and money, but I figured they had a sense of what happened.

I began to feel helpless and hopeless, thinking that I’d take forever to graduate and I’d never find a job. College counselors suggested that I find tutors which for some odd reason I thought was looked down upon at the time. I took tests to find out which careers might be suited for me, but that didn’t really lead anywhere. I went from a pre-pharmacy to an accounting and to a history major. Eventually, I declared a psychology major, at this point still not telling my parents.

Classes in psych became much more manageable. I didn’t think much of how well I did because of the stigma of the difficulty of psychology courses compared to other hard sciences. In my junior year, I searched for pysch internships and got research assistant positions in the applied behavior analysis (ABA) department which sparked my interest. Between my psych classes and working as a research assistant, I felt more capable and things started to look up. I can’t remember exactly what prompted me to see a school psychologist (maybe because it was part of the psych department) but after talking things over with the psychologist about how I was overwhelmed by life and my social anxiety, I was able to take steps to talk to my parents about being a psych major now (it was still a difficult talk!), reach out to people, and not feel so anxious and alone anymore.

Sometime in my junior and senior year, I started wanting to go into the occupational therapy route and took classes and started applying to grad programs. Sad to say by the time I graduated from college, I hadn’t received any acceptance letters. The feeling of hopelessness started again.

In my six months after college, after the typical job search and leaving a few temp jobs not fit for me, I worked part-time as an ABA registered behavior technician and part-time as a reader/secretary for a journalist in a senior living community. My parents floated around the idea of me going to nursing school. After I got over the thought of not having many job prospects with my current qualifications, my dad paying my tuition again (making me feel more even more obligated to him), AND having to go through school again, I started nursing classes.

Working while taking nursing classes and clinicals were tough, not gonna lie. Two years went by quickly, and when I got to my exit exam before graduation, I hit another roadblock. The passing score was a 75% for the school to let us sit for the NCLEX, the nursing licensure test, and we had three attempts, and if we failed the last attempt, the school would require us to take remedial classes and pay tuition again. I scored somewhere in the 50s on my first attempt. I waited a few months, studied my ass off with a group this time, and scored in the 60s on my second attempt. Remember that hopeless feeling from my university years? It returned XD.

I was reluctant about taking a NCLEX prep/review class because of its cost. Since this was my last attempt at a shot to take the NCLEX or go through remedial classes, I dropped $900 from my paychecks, not through my father’s money this time (My guess is that I worked even harder to succeed because I paid with my own money). Between attending this review class and going to work, listening to the lectures on repeat, taking practice tests after practice tests, going to study groups, and cutting back on social outings, I felt like I studied nonstop and had no life. When it came time to attempt the exit again, I was sooo nervous, thinking about how I thought I did well during my previous attempts but ended up failing. It’s an understatement to say that I was relieved and shocked when I got a 76. It was barely passing, but a pass nonetheless. I was allowed to sit for the boards!

I was still a nervous wreck because of the NCLEX. My NCLEX prep coach/teacher said I should be ready to take the NCLEX in a few months. She said that I should take more tests because even though I was passing, she wanted to make sure I was scoring high enough to pass the NCLEX. Welp..so I scheduled the NCLEX one month out because there were few testing dates (I don’t remember even telling anyone the exact date when I scheduled it). I had also agreed to go to a friend’s graduation trip a few months out prior to talking to my NCLEX coach. By choosing a later date, I’d risk taking the exam after the trip and when the information was no longer fresh in my mind. I continued my previous study regimen for the most part, in addition to purchasing a month subscription to Uworld, a question bank to help me even more for the NCLEX.

I probably should have been more worried and nervous, and probably did most of my preparation from the exit, but sitting the NCLEX was a less nerve wracking experience. The waiting game was the worst part. I could get into the details of the exam and what made me think I passed or failed afterwards, but that would just make this story go on much longer than it needs to be :D. After checking multiple sources for my score and refreshing sites like crazy, I got the official pass, a few days after I tested and just before my friend’s trip began :D.

I’ve been working as an RN full-time from October of last year up until now and can’t really complain. Things have been going relatively smoothly and looking up. Had a small scare from my dad’s pituitary tumor diagnosis a few months ago, but he’s recovered nicely. Life’s been pretty good as of yet :).

Thanks for reading all of this longwinded and seemingly directionless writing for those of you who did! Didn’t mean to make it this lengthy, but had to write it all out to make it a bit easier to understand. I guess my point was that the setbacks I thought I had, although I thought they were the end of the world then, are like the knots I made intentionally and unintentially in the back of the pattern. I felt bad and wanted to take all the “knots” out. Even though the “pattern” took a long time to complete and it didn’t look perfect in the back, I continued to work on it and it resulted in something beautiful.

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Pause/Resume

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I’m both sad and happy to say that I’ll be starting back up with the “Past, Present, Forever” cross-stitch kit since I just finished reading “The Blinding Knife”.  I really enjoyed working on my “Flowers and Lace” kit. A little less than half of the white border is completed along with most of the backstitches for the leaves and the purple flowers.

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I accidentally discovered one day while tugging a little too hard on one of the strands that I’m supposed to tug hard on a strand to remove it from the cardboard. No more needing to clip them from the cardboard :).

Although it’s just been a month, I feel like it’s been a long while since I last updated. Haven’t stitched as much as I liked to, some reasons that are on my part: like starting another book in the middle of “The Blinding Knife” and binging on TV shows that require more of my attention (13 Reasons Why, Black Mirror WHICH I’M COMPLETELY OBSESSED WITH, and Westworld), and one that is out of my control: my dad getting surgery to his pituitary gland (He’s safe and sound now ^^) which I’ll probably go into more detail in my following post or two.

Liebster Award

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A little while back, Nat nominated me for this Liebster award. Nat posts about social anxiety, how she copes with it, and her very relatable (at least for me!) feelings that go along with it. Feeling very touched by the nomination is an understatement, so thank you Nat! It’s quite nice to know that people visit my blog and that some of you like what you read, haha.

Ahhh! As I was going through the blogs I follow to make my list of nominations, I discovered that Emz nominated me (I was going to nominate you too!). She posts super cute and pretty posts on cross-stitch projects she’s working on. Thanks Emz!

The nominations don’t end here as it seems that the goal of this award is to give recognition to, and to allow to discover other bloggers too. 🙂

Rules for Receiving this Award

  • Create a post to accept the award! Thank the person who nominated you and link back to his/her blog (it would help if you included a little information about it).
  • Display the award on your blog. You can save the image and upload it to your blog post and/or add it as a widget on your blog.
  • List 10 random facts about yourself.
  • Nominate 5-10 blogs you admire that have less than 200 followers.
  • Post your answers to the questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • List these rules in your post.
  • Ask your nominees 10 questions after tagging them in the post.

10 Facts About Me

  1. I love the color purple.
  2. I’m pretty bad with words. I wish I spent much less time trying to figure out the “right” way to express what I want to say.
  3. I think corgis, bunnies, and penguins are the cutest things ever; corgis are like potatoes with legs, bunnies have those irresistible little nose wiggles, and penguins look like they’re wearing tuxes and are often quite chubby.
  4. I had a super big K-pop obsessive phase from 2007ish to 2013.
  5. I have eczema. I even have another blog about it! I had a pretty big flareup in 2014 and the hyperpigmentation and scars it left are just now almost completely cleared up.
  6. For those who are familiar with the MBTI, I’m an INTP.
  7. I love making lists. Doing things on said lists is very different though 🙂
  8. I like to use a lot of emojis :D.
  9. I don’t understand these contradictions (maybe they’re not contradictions?) about myself. I consider myself adventurous and thrill seeking (traveling, trying new foods, roller coasters, tried skydiving, scary movies), yet I’m pretty shy and I enjoy routine.
  10. Dad jokes still make me laugh. (To be fair, I laugh at the most random shit)

Nat’s Q & A

  • What was your childhood dream, and why?

Hm, from what I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. Thinking now, props to those of you in the profession. I have no idea how I thought that I could be one because I don’t think I could handle a large group of students and keep them behaved, lol.

  • What is one thing you cannot live without?

The internet sadly, haha.

  • If you had a million dollars, what would you spend it on? 

Clothes, a cellphone upgrade, a laptop upgrade. I’d leave a big sum for my father, and probably save the rest. No noble causes I’d spend the rest of it on that I can think of though. 😦

  • Name one piece of advice you might give to your younger self.

You’re more than capable of than what you believe.

  • What is one skill or lesson you learned this year?

I used to think I often didn’t make empty promises, but work has proved that sooo wrong, lol. Let’s just say nowadays, I add a disclaimer that I’ll try my best, say I can’t promise anything, or say I’ll see a couple of other patients first, when a patient asks me when I’ll be back for their care or to fulfill a request.

  • How do you celebrate your own birthday?

I don’t really celebrate. I mainly spend it as another quiet day that I look forward to just with cake :).

  • Describe one person you either know, have met or interacted with who has influenced you in a positive way. 

As cheesy as it sounds, my boyfriend has helped me become more confident and social. Because he’s more of an extrovert, his social plans “force” me out of my comfort zone. I find it funny that I thought that I needed advice from him to be more confident and for him to monitor my progress in order to improve, but I’ve come to see that my confidence has gone up just from him taking a backseat approach and him being there to always listen (to my neverending venting, lol). I appreciate it so much that he gives me a shoulder to lean on.

  • Where is your favorite place to hang out?

Clematis Street which is part of the downtown area near where I live. There’s so much to do in the area and it’s such a warm atmosphere. During select months, there’s a farmer’s market with great food and bottomless mimosas. There are nightclubs (I’m starting to get too old for those late nights D: ), and an awesome selection of restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. As someone who isn’t very social, there’s something about the places on Clematis Street that I can’t describe which makes it feel so welcoming :).

  • What color makes you feel calm?

Blue

[4/27/17 EDIT (Seems like I missed copy and pasting this question when I originally posted this]:

  • Tell me about at least two things (or people) you are grateful to have in your life.

I’m grateful for my health and my life experiences. I’ve had a lot of fond memories and learned a lot of great lessons from said experiences.

Emz’s Q & A

*some repeated questions from above have been removed

  • What is your favourite type of music?

This is pretty tough. Probably downtempo/chillstep electronic music.

  • Why did you start blogging?

I wanted to write about cross-stitch advice/tips and ask people about theirs as well. It was also a way for me to keep a log and keep myself accountable for the projects and kits I work on, lol.

  • If you could be in any TV show or film what would it be and why?

Hm, this is a tough one. Maybe Ouran High School Host Club. There’s a lot of pretty boys and I’d be laughing at the hilarity that would ensue among them.

  • Where’s the most exciting place you visited?

Bremen, Germany. It was one of the first times I saw snow up close. It was what I envisioned what a winter wonderland would be like: cobblestones, freezing my ass off, beautiful shops.

  • What’s your favourite food?

Lol, what isn’t my favorite? If I could only choose one, it’d be chocolate.

  • If you could change places with anyone for the day who would it be and why?

This is a tough one. Does my family dog count? [4/27/17 EDIT (I missed the why part! I swear I might have some form of ADD)]: I’d be curious what it’d be like to live as a dog. Are their minds as excitable as their behaviors seem to show? 😀

  • What’s your dream job?

I don’t have one really, but one that would cover my living expenses and could fund my hobbies which isn’t different than what I have currently. I don’t think I could do anything I REALLY liked as a job because I might end up hating it.

  • Can you speak more than one language?

A little Cantonese, and even less Mandarin.

  • Whats the one skill you wish you could master?

How to appear confident even when I don’t know wtf I’m doing.

  • What’s your spirit animal?

A koala :). I like to sleep and eat.

My Nominations

  • Flossandfibro – Blog about fibromyalgia and coping through a variety of crafts
  • littleblackdogsa – Lots of posts of pretty cross-stitches and other crafts 🙂
  • quiltscatsandme – Cross-stitch and a lovely travel blog
  • domnakis – Gorgeous cakes 😀
  • yhandmade – Blog with beautiful floral embroidery

10 Questions For My Nominees

1. Do you prefer sweet or savory foods?
2. What can’t you leave your house without?
3. What did you enjoy most about today?
4. Are you an early riser or a night owl?
5. What’s your favorite hobby?
6. What are three foods you can’t go without?
7. What are you looking forward to?
8. What websites do you frequent?
9. Name one of your current goals.
10. What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Bears!

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They’re soo cute! I just love the color gradients and shades used in this pattern :).

I think this is the proudest I’ve been of the back of the pattern of any kit I’ve worked on yet. I’ve clipped a lot of the end tails super close to the back of the pattern. I probably will post a pic of how the back looks after the whole pattern is completed.

Since I’ve completed most of these three teddy bears, I’ll be rotating back to my “Flowers and Lace” kit for a little bit!

Past, Present, Forever Progress and Hiatus :(

Hi fellow stitchers!

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I’ve finally reached my Past, Present, Forever “checkpoint”. A good portion of the backstitching has been completed and I didn’t dread the backstitches as much as I expected to (though I did dread it for a different reason).

I don’t know if my kit’s just gotten old and the floss is deteriorating with age (oops!) or if the floss quality isn’t as good as it should be, but I’ve had many instances of my threads breaking with the backstitches! Or maybe, since I like to bring the thread to the front and to the back (or vice versa) with one major pull, or the friction caused by the Glissen Gloss blending filament thread, or a combination of everything, but overall it’s been so frustrating!

On a more positive note, I really do like the definition the backstiching has given the piece so far. I initially thought that the backstitching would make the castle look more cartoonish and give it a more “blocky” appearance, but I do like how it’s turned out. It looks more refined, haha. A lot of the backstitching was a bit hard to find in the beginning because of the subtle color changes in the castle, and post and wall. After finishing the backstitches, they have added a nice contrast to the colors :).

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This came in the mail today after me pining for several months and Amazon canceling the order because it was out of stock :). Some of you guys know the drill: I post a picture of the backside of the packaging and make the kit reveal after I start stitching haha. So…I probably won’t be buying any more kits soon because I’ve gotten all the ones I’ve eagerly wanted and my pooor wallet.

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I’ll be taking a small break from the Past, Present, Forever piece :(. Part of the reason is I’ve been fed up with the threads breaking, and more so because I’ve been neglecting a book I’d like to finish reading soon. For anyone who’s curious, it’s “The Blinding Knife” by Brent Weeks. I’m about halfway through and my goal is to finish it before I start back up with this project. I’ll still be working here and there on my other kits though :).

Until then, happy stitching and see you guys in the next post!

Faster Cross-stitching?

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The bear looks kinda creepy without the eyes stitched in, welp..

Been making lots of progress with the Past, Present, Forever and the Flowers and Lace patterns. I’ll leave it up to you guys, my readers, to take that as sarcasm or not :D. I spent the last few days stitching those two patterns more than I normally would, and I suppose in the process, I got sick of them and started a new one. The new pattern’s called Teddy Bear Gathering, and it’s another from the Dimensions Gold Collection :).

I’m in love with the railroading technique. For those whom this is the first time seeing this term, it’s a stitching technique that helps make two strands in a stitch lie parallel to each other. I don’t think I’ve ever had my stitches lie so flatly and neatly before, and I feel like it’s reduced the times the threads have gotten tangled (knock on wood!). Thank you so much, Nat, for introducing me to the term! Please check out her beautiful stitching here and here. She also writes heartful, and at times, raw posts about her personal dealings with social anxiety.

I’ve been lately hoping to stitch faster, and stumbled upon the term “the sewing method“. I’ve seen the method used before in other videos, but didn’t have a chance to place a name with it until now. I do hope to use the method soon although I probably won’t be able to with the constant color changes I have in the patterns currently. I’ll have to wait until I finish most of those sections, and get to the background since backgrounds have generally large sections of one color.

Another thing I’ve seen a lot of stitchers do in videos that I wish I mastered is poking the needle in the right place from the back of the cloth/pattern to the front without having to flip to look at the back of the cloth. For those of you who stitch like that comfortably, HOW THE HELL DO YOU DO THAT? I always have trouble pushing the needle through the right place and end up poking EVERYWHERE but the right one. It looks like stitching would go sooo much faster if I could do that properly!

Do you ladies have tips and tricks to stitch faster or any other general tricks you like to use? I’d love to hear from you! I have a few cross-stitch tips and tricks videos in my YouTube watchlist and wouldn’t mind adding more :).

26!

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I turn 26 today, guys! This is what I got myself and I’m soo tempted to open and start stitching the new pattern, but I have to finish both the Cinderella’s Castle and the flowers patterns before I get to this one :/.

The new pattern’s (I won’t reveal what it is until I start stitching >:D) finished size is about that of the “Flowers and Lace” pattern. The major difference though is that the “Flowers and Lace” has a lot of empty areas without stitches and this new pattern will not, so it’ll probably end up taking a lot more time to complete.

Jan. 27, 2017

Speaking of Cinderella’s Castle, all the cross-stitches are done :D. I meant to post a picture of it now, but turns out the pictures I thought I had aren’t on my phone! :(. I’ll edit this post tomorrow morning with the picture.